The news suddenly came out on Monday, without the warning usually comes from reports and rumors: Daryl Dike is traveling to England to borrow from Barnsley FC.
Don’t feel bad if you have to go to Wikipedia for the next six months to find out about the forward’s home in Orlando City. Even the most devoted Tykes follower would probably admit they aren’t a big fish. Located in a humble town between Leeds and Sheffield, Barnsley spent a lonely season in the Premier League 25 years ago. In that century he moved between the second and third division of English football. Their greatest honor so far is a triumph in the FA Cup in 1912 and they currently occupy 12th place in the English championship.
But the club now has a distinctly American flair – and a clear plan worked out by an MLS alum to surpass its weight enough to hopefully get them to the promised land of the Premier League at some point.
– Barnsley FC (@BarnsleyFC) February 1, 2021
Three years ago, a new owner consortium, which also controls OGC Nice (France), FC Thun (Switzerland) and KV Oostende (Belgium), took over Barnsley, including a Billy Beane from Oakland A and “Moneyball”. In July 2019, the group hired DC United’s Dane Murphy to take over as CEO at the relatively tender age of 33.
Their plan may sound familiar to those who have seen the New York Red Bulls, Philadelphia Union, and Sporting Kansas City do MLS in recent years. The championship is ruthlessly competitive and full of clubs large and small competing for a valuable place in the EPL, the richest league in the world. Money is injected freely, even desperately. Front offices, many of which are spending beyond their means, work tirelessly through managers and players.
Amid all this wealth and waste, Barnsley strives for sustainability, especially given the daunting financial bottlenecks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s a project that tries to do things a little differently,” Murphy said in an in-depth conversation with MLSsoccer.com late last year. “It starts with our recruitment and our data-driven ability to attract players and coaches who fit a particular model. We feel when it comes to the club, how we want to play, what kind of players we hire, what kind of coaches we bring in, and when there is revenue, you don’t have to change the baseline, nor do you have to change the infrastructure to change. They only move parts. “
Aligned with Jürgen Klopp and Red Bull’s global empire, Barnsley has taken on the high press, devoted to analytics and focused on young talent who can be promoted for a sale value. Build a stable foundation there and a sustained surge of advancement can follow.
Nice Scoop from Julia – Can confirm there is an option to purchase in Orlando’s loan from Daryl Dike to Barnsley.
FWIW: Barnsley has never paid more than $ 2.5 million for a player BUT if another club thinks Dike is worth it, Barnsley would take the option to buy and then sell on. https://t.co/BExOjM13qT
– Tom Bogert (@tombogert) February 1, 2021
“We believe that young players can grow into this system and find their way around any club that has a different formation or different tactics,” said Murphy. “It’s best for us to be competitive against these kind of Goliath teams with lots of talent and lots of money. If we can put pressure on them and create as many opportunities as possible, we can compete against each other week after week. “
This approach created unexpected links with MLS even before Dike’s arrival. A year ago, Barnsley hired Gerhard Struber to coach and although the Austrian had spent most of the season in the relegation zone, he stubbornly led the Tykes on a grand escape that was crowned by a dramatic final day win over Brentford for theirs To keep place in the championship. A few months later the Red Bulls called and eventually pushed Struber away from Murphy & Co. They paid a seven-figure sum to get him out of his Barnsley contract and make him the next RBNY head coach.
“We had a very good coach and a great person. We wanted him to stay because under him we felt that we could build on the miracle of last season and really compete this year, ”said Murphy von Struber.
“He’s so good with younger players and keeps the team temperature where it needs to be. Not once in the last year has he wavered when he said, “We’ll stay in the league”, even when it seemed impossible. And you do this over and over and you say it enough, everyone starts to believe it. And at some point last year we had the feeling that Gerhard believed that, and we are playing against these teams that are ten times as expensive as us and are fighting for promotion, and he still really believes that. Why can’t we all believe this? … The New York Red Bulls fan base and the club will find a man who will do whatever he can. “
Conversely, Barnsley would like to lure North American talent across the pond to join them. Last year they made a transfer offer for Reggie Cannon in the months before the full-back moved from Dallas FC to Boavista. So far, the MLSers they are pursuing have been rated out of their reach – Orlando’s reported rating of Dike is likely beyond their means in terms of permanent transfer – while UK work permits remain challenging.
But the Tykes are keen on the League’s emerging export market, and Murphy is routinely peppered with questions about his homeland from colleagues across Europe.
“Everyone here is watching. I’m not the only one following it closely, ”he said. “Now sometimes it only takes two or three good games from a young American gamer, a young Canadian gamer to get it flared up on Sky News, and I get a ping from someone in Germany or Spain who says, Do you know anything about this boy?” ? Now, more than ever, the eye of Europe is looking to MLS to find the next generation of talent. And that will only help the league.
“One thing I found is that the players in Europe have gotten better,” he added. “Americans or Canadians come in and make an impression. Now there is less of the” Bob Bradley tells PKs he is using the wrong language. “’and’ Dane has a funny accent and talks about other American sports. ‘There’s less of that now because if the players do well and Jesse Marsh does well, then the Americans know what they’re talking about. Very funny how it works. “
Murphy himself encountered much of this suspicion. The former MLS and NASL midfielder is still fresh enough to be mistaken for a player, and it is unusual for Americans in a post like his to stay at the ancestral home of the sport. He received a notable reminder of this after one of the English Football League’s first board meetings, which he attended, when the CEO of a major club now competing in the Premier League approached him to compliment him on his contributions to the talks .
“He said,” I didn’t think you’d know there were three departments in the EFL, “recalls Murphy.” And I laughed and he laughed. And he said, “No, but seriously, I thought you were just this new kid put in this position and you had to learn everything, like the alphabet. “
American and Canadian soccer fans have been following the exploits of the Americans and Canucks in Europe’s top leagues for decades. More recently, Jesse Marsch have opened up new opportunities in coaching, and a steady stream of North Americans are investing in clubs overseas. However, as Murphy’s experience shows, the management influx has been slower – which makes him and his club an intriguing case.
“In the end, we’re all tribes, and the no-quote British tribe or the English just feel so strong that this is their sport,” added Murphy, who had previously worked for the New York Cosmos and Real Salt Lake as well cross. “And when that American boy with the funny accent comes by, what does he know that the general population doesn’t? Everyone on the street can do their job.
“So there’s definitely a bias and it’s ingrained, it’s built in. It’s not malicious in any way. Is it just that Americans feel when they walk in and do a better job or an equal job for someone who is British, step on our turf and national pastime? “
Murphy is already proving he can do the job in England’s Cutthroat Win-or-Bust Championship. Now he’s given one of America’s most noticeable prospects the chance to do the same.